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Kentucky lawmakers approve separate marriage licenses for same-sex couples

[JURIST] The Kentucky Senate [official website] approved a bill [SB 5] on Thursday that would create distinct marriage license forms for opposite-sex and same-sex couples. The bill in its current form provides [AP report] that opposite-sex couples register themselves as "bride and groom" while same-sex couples register as "first and second party." Though former Democratic governor Steve Beshear removed the words "bride" and "groom" entirely last year, Kentucky Republicans have stressed the importance of respecting traditional families. Opponents argue that having one form that provides both proposed options would be more just and cost efficient. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] also voiced its concern that the new bill is discriminatory in nature. The bill is now planned to be reviewed and amended by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

The new bill follows recent controversy surrounding Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. Earlier this month a federal judge found that Davis is obeying orders [JURIST report] to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after much opposition. Following the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges [JURIST report] in June, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex or heterosexual couples arguing that her Christian faith should exempt her from issuing the licenses to same-sex couples. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered [JURIST report] Davis to issue the licenses in August, but she continued to refuse [JURIST report]. The following week, the Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] her bid to continue refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples pending an appeal. A federal judge held Davis in contempt of court [JURIST report] in September for her continued refusal, releasing her after several days in jail. Davis claimed upon returning to work that she would not block her clerks from issuing the licenses.

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